Cycling Keeps the Immune System Young

Staying active into old age has a lot of benefits, here’s one to add to the list: a robust immune system that looks decades younger than expected. Such is the finding of a new study  published  Thursday in the journal  Aging Cell.

In the study, researchers examined the blood of 125 people over the age of 55 who have regularly cycled for most of their lives, looking for markers of T-cell production. They compared fit senior citizens to 75 similarly aged, otherwise healthy people who didn’t exercise, as well as 55 non-active young adults. The older cyclists had higher levels of young T-cells than their sedentary peers. In fact, their levels were close to the same as those found in the younger group.

The gradual decline of our immune system as we age, immunesenescence, might not be as inevitable as once thought.

“We conclude that many features of immunesenescence may be driven by reduced physical activity with age”

The researchers theorize that staying active into your later years will not only protect you from diseases like cancer, it could also make vaccines more effective. They plan to study the same group of cyclists for their response to vaccines next.